Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year subscription

USD  $107.00

1 year subscription

USD  $142.00

Student 2 year subscription

USD  $203.00

2 year subscription

USD  $265.00

Rugby sevens, a sport new to the Olympics, features high-intensity intermittent running and contact efforts over short match durations, normally 6 times across 2 to 3 d in a tournament format. Elite rugby sevens seasons often include over a dozen competitive tournaments over less than 9 months, demanding deliberate and careful training-stress balance and workload management alongside development of the necessary physical qualities required for competition. Focus on running and repeated power skills, strength, and match-specific conditioning capacities is advised. Partial taper approaches in combination with high-speed running (>5 m/s from GPS measures) before and between tournaments in succession may reduce injury rates and enhance performance. In a sport with substantial long-haul intercontinental travel and repetitive chronic load demands, management of logistics including nutrition and recovery is inclusive of the formula for success in the physical preparation of elite rugby sevens athletes.

Schuster is with the Athletics Dept, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL. Howells is with Rugby Football Union, Twickenham, United Kingdom. Robineau and Couderc are with the French Rugby Union Federation, Marcoussis, France. Natera is with the Greater Western Sydney Giants, Australia. Lumley is with the Scottish Rugby Union, Edinburgh, Scotland. Gabbett is with Gabbett Performance Solutions, Brisbane, and the Inst for Resilient Regions, University of Southern Queensland, Darling Heights, Australia. Winkelman is with the Irish Rugby Football Union, Dublin, Ireland.

Schuster (JSchuster@FSU.edu) is corresponding author.
  • 1.

    Curry A, Heptonstall V, Warwick C. The future of rugby: an HSBC report. HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2015/16. 2016.

  • 2.

    Ross A, Gill N, Cronin J. The match demands of international rugby sevens. J Sports Sci. 2015;33:1035–1041. PubMed doi:

  • 3.

    Ross A, Gill N, Cronin J. Match analysis and player characteristics in rugby sevens. Sport Med. 2014;44(3):357–367. doi:

  • 4.

    Mitchell J, Pumpa K, Williams K, Pyne D. Variable changes in body composition, strength and lower-body power during an international rugby sevens season. J Strength Cond Res. 2016;30(4):1127–1136. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5.

    Mitchell J, Pumpa K, Pyne D. Responses of lower body power and match running demands following long haul travel in international rugby sevens players. J Strength Cond Res. 2017;31:686–695. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6.

    Furusawa K, Hill A, Parkinson J. Dynamics of “sprint” running. Proc R Soc Britain. 1927;102(10):29–42. doi:

  • 7.

    Higham DG, Pyne DB, Anson JM, Eddy A. Movement patterns in rugby sevens: effects of tournament level, fatigue and substitute players. J Sci Med Sport. 2012;15(3):277–282. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8.

    Morin J, Samozino P, Edouard P, Tomazin K. Sprint fatigue affects the technical ability of force application. Med Sci Sport Exerc. 2011;43(suppl 1):100. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 9.

    Kerr J. Legacy. London, UK: Constable & Robinson; 2013.

  • 10.

    Saw A, Main L, Gastin P. Monitoring the athlete training response: subjective self-reported measures trump commonly used objective measures: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med. 2016;50:281–291. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11.

    Baker D, Sciences H. Comparison of strength levels between players from within the same club that were selected versus not-selected to play in the grand final of the National Rugby League competition. Strength Cond J. 2016. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 12.

    Suchomel T, Nimphius S, Stone M. The importance of muscular strength in athletic performance. Sport Med. 2016;46(10):1419–1449. doi:

  • 13.

    Hingham D, Pyne D, Anson J, Eddy A. Physiological, anthropometric, and performance characteristics of rugby sevens players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2013;8:19–27. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 14.

    Gabbett T. Influence of fatigue on tackling ability in rugby league players: role of muscular strength, endurance, and aerobic qualities. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(10):0163161. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 15.

    Gabbett T, Kennelly S, Sheehan J, et al. If overuse injury is a “training load error”, should undertraining be viewed the same way? Br J Sports Med. 2016;50:1017–1018. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16.

    Malone S, Roe M, Doran D, Gabbett T, Collins K. High chronic training loads and exposure to bouts of maximal velocity running reduce injury risk in elite Gaelic football. J Sci Med Sport. 2017;20:250–254. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 17.

    Bickel C, Cross J, Bamman M. Exercise dosing to retain resistance training adaptations in young and older adults. Med Sci Sport Exerc. 2011;43(7):1177–1187. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 18.

    Ronnestad B, Egeland W, Kvamme N, Refsnes P, Kadi F, Raastad T. Dissimilar effects of one-and-three-set strength training on strength and muscle mass gains in upper and lower body in untrained subjects. J Strength Cond Res. 2007;21(1):157–163. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 19.

    Ross A, Gill N, Cronin J, Malcata R. The relationship between physical characteristics and match performance in rugby sevens. Eur J Sport Sci. 2015;15(6):565–571. doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 20.

    Gabbet T, Ullah S, Finch C. Identifying risk factors for contact injury in professional rugby league players—application of a frailty model for recurrent injury. J Sci Med Sport. 2012;15:496–504. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 21.

    Fuller C, Taylor A, Raftery M. Epidemiology of concussion in men’s elite rugby-7s (Sevens World Series) and rugby-15s (Rugby World Cup, Junior World Championship and Rugby Trophy, Pacific Nations Cup and English Premiership). Br J Sports Med. 2014:1–6. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 22.

    Wehbe G, Hartwig T, Duncan C. Movement analysis of Australian National League soccer players using global positioning system technology. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(3):834–842. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 23.

    Gabbett T, Gahan C. Repeated high-intensity-effort activity in relation to tries scored and conceded during rugby league match play. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2016;11(4):530–534.

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 24.

    Goodale T, Gabbett T, Stellingwerff T, Tsai M, Sheppard J. Relationship between physical qualities and minutes played in international women’s rugby sevens. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2016;11:489–494. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 25.

    Haugen T, Buchheit M. Sprint running performance monitoring?: methodological and practical considerations key points. Sport Med. 2016;46:641–656. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 26.

    Buchheit M, Samozino P, Glynn JA, et al. Mechanical determinants of acceleration and maximal sprinting speed in highly trained young soccer players. J Sports Sci. 2014;32(20):1906–1913. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 27.

    Samozino P, Rabita G, Dorel S, et al. A simple method for measuring power, force, velocity properties, and mechanical effectiveness in sprint running. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2016;26:648–658. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 28.

    Suarez-Arrones L, Núñez J, Sáez de Villareal E, Gálvez J, Suarez-Sanchez G, Munguía-Izquierdo D. Repeated-high-intensity-running activity and internal training load of elite rugby sevens players during international matches: a comparison between halves. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2016;11:495–499. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 29.

    Ross A, Gill N, Cronin J. A comparison of the match demands of international and provincial rugby sevens. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2015;10(6):786–790. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 30.

    Suarez-Arrones L, Arenas C, López G, Requena B, Terrill O, Mendez-Villanueva A. Positional differences in match running performance and physical collisions in men rugby sevens. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2014;9(2):316–323. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 31.

    Bishop D, Spencer M. Determinants of repeated-sprint ability in well-trained team-sport athletes and endurance-trained athletes. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2004;44(1):1–7. PubMed

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 32.

    Gabbett T, Benton D. Reactive agility of rugby league players. J Sci Med Sport. 2009;12:212–214. PubMed doi:

  • 33.

    Gabbett T, Kelly J, Sheppard J. Speed, change of direction speed, and reactive agility of rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res. 2008;22:174–181. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 34.

    Gabbet T. Changes in physiological and anthropometric characteristics of rugby league players during a competitive season. J Strength Cond Res. 2005;19(2):400–408. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 35.

    Rumpf M, Lockie R, Cronin J, Jalilvand F. The effect of different sprint training methods on sprint performance over various distances: a brief overview. J Strength Cond Res 2016;30:1767–1785. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 36.

    Rabita G, Dorel S, Slawinski J, et al. Sprint mechanics in world-class athletes: a new insight into the limits of human locomotion. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2015;25:583–594. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 37.

    Morin J, Slawinski J, Dorel S, et al. Acceleration capability in elite sprinters and ground impulse: push more, brake less? J Biomech. 2015;48:3149–3154. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 38.

    Weyand P, Sternlight D, Bellizzi M, Wright S. Faster top running speeds are achieved with greater ground forces not more rapid leg movements. J Appl Physiol. 2000;89(5):1991–1999. PubMed

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 39.

    Clark K, Weyand P. Are running speeds maximized with simple spring-stance mechanics? J Appl Physiol. 2014;117(6):604–615. PubMed doi:

  • 40.

    Cunningham D, West D, Owen N, et al. Strength and power predictors of sprinting performance in professional rugby players. J Sport Med Phys Fit. 2013;53(2):105–111.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 41.

    Baker D, Newton R. Comparison of lower body strength, power, acceleration, speed, agility and sprint momentum to describe and compare playing rank among professional rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res. 2008;22(1):153–158. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 42.

    Johnston R, Gabbett T, Jenkins D, Hulin B. Influence of fatigue on tackling technique in rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res. 2008;22(2):625–632. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 43.

    Sáez de Villarreal E, Suarez-Arrones L, Requena B, Haff GG, Ferrete C. Effects of plyometric and sprint training on physical and technical skill performance in adolescent soccer players. J Strength Cond Res. 2015;29(7):1894–1903. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 44.

    Gabbett T, Wheeler AJ. Predictors of repeated high-intensity-effort ability in rugby league players. Int J Sport Physiol Perform. 2015;10:718–724. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 45.

    Cormie P, McGuigan M, Newton RU. Developing maximal neuromuscular power part 2—training considerations for improving maximal power production. Sport Med. 2011;24(1):573–580. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 46.

    Thomasson M, Comfort P. Occurrence of fatigue during sets of static squat jumps performed at a variety of loads. J Strength Cond Res. 2012;26(3):677–683. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 47.

    Hester G, Conchola E, Thiele R, DeFreitas J. Power output during a high-volume power-oriented back squat protocol. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(10):2801–2805. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 48.

    Volek J, Kraemer W, Bush J, et al. Creatine supplementation enhances muscular performance during high-intensity resistance exercise. J Am Diet Assoc. 1997;97(7):765–770. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 49.

    Mosey T. Power endurance and strength training methods of the Australian lightweight men’s four. J Aust Strength Cond. 2011;19(1):9–19.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 50.

    Gonzalo-Skok O, Tous-Fajardo J, Arjol-Serrano JL, Suarez-Arrones L, Casajús JA, Mendez-Villanueva A. Improvement of repeated-sprint ability and horizontal-jumping performance in elite young basketball players with low-volume repeated-maximal-power training. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2016;11:464–473. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 51.

    Apanukul S, Suwannathada S. The effects of combined weight and pneumatic training to enhance power endurance in tennis players. J Exerc Physiol. 2015;18(2):8–17.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 52.

    Gabbett T, Domrow N. Relationships between training load, injury, and fitness in sub-elite collision sport athletes. J Sports Sci. 2007;25(13):1507–1519. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 53.

    Gabbett T. The training-injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder? Br J Sports Med. 2016;50:273–280. PubMed doi:

  • 54.

    Gabbett T, Ullah S. Relationship between running loads and soft-tissue injury in elite team sport athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2012;26(4):953–960. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 55.

    Gabbett T. Reductions in pre-season training loads reduce training injury rates in rugby league players. Br J Sports Med. 2004;38:743–749. PubMed doi:

  • 56.

    Hulin B, Gabbett T, Caputi P, Lawson D, Sampson J. The acute:chronic workload ratio predicts injury: high chronic workload may decrease injury risk in elite rugby league players. Br J Sports Med. 2016;50:231–236. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 57.

    Soligard T, Schwellnus M, Alonso J, et al. How much is too much? (part 1): International Olympic Committee consensus statement on load in sport and risk of injury. Br J Sports Med. 2016;50(17):1030–1041. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 58.

    Schwellnus M, Soligard T, Alonso J, et al. How much is too much? (part 2): International Olympic Committee consensus statement on load in sport and risk of illness. Br J Sports Med. 2016;50(17):1043–1052. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 59.

    Windt J, Gabbett T, Ferris D, Khan K. Training load-injury paradox: is greater preseason participation associated with lower in-season injury risk in elite rugby league players? Br J Sports Med. 2017;51(8):645–650. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 60.

    Murray N, Gabbett T, Townshend A, Hulin B, McLellan C. Individual and combined effects of acute and chronic running loads on injury risk in elite Australian footballers. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2017;27:990–998. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 61.

    Blanch P, Gabbett T. Has the athlete trained enough to return to play safely?: the acute:chronic workload ratio permits clinicians to quantify a player’s risk of subsequent injury. Br J Sports Med. 2016;50:471–475. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 62.

    Duhig S, Shield A, Opar D, Gabbett T, Ferguson C, Williams M. Effect of high-speed running on hamstring strain injury risk. Br J Sports Med. 2016;50:1536–1540. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 63.

    Furlan N, Waldron M, Shorter K, et al. Running-intensity fluctuations in elite rugby sevens performance. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2015;10(6):802–807. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 64.

    Kristensen GO, van den Tillaar R, Ettema GJ. Velocity specificity in early-phase sprint training. J Strength Cond Res. 2006;20(4):833–837. PubMed

  • 65.

    Mujika I, Padilla S. Scientific bases for precompetition tapering strategies. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003;35(7):1182–1187. PubMed doi:

  • 66.

    Bosquet L, Montpetit J, Arvisais D, Mujika I. Effects of tapering on performance: a meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007;39(8):1358–1365. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 67.

    Kraemer W, Hooper D, Kupchak B, et al. The effects of a roundtrip trans-American jet travel on physiological stress, neuromuscular performance and recovery. J Appl Physiol. 2016;121:438–448. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 68.

    West D, Cook C, Stokes K, et al. Profiling the time-course changes in neuromuscular function and muscle damage over two consecutive tournament stages in elite rugby sevens players. J Sci Med Sport. 2014;17(6):688–692. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 69.

    Trappe S, Costill D, Thomas R. Effect of swim taper on whole muscle and single muscle fiber contractile properties. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000;32(12):48–56. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 70.

    Fessi M, Zarrouk N, Di Salvo V, Filetti C, Barker A, Moalla W. Effects of tapering on physical match activities in professional soccer players. J Sports Sci. 2016;34:2189–2194. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 71.

    Ferrauti A, Oh S, Droscher S, et al. Effects of preloading exercise intensity on physical and cognitive performance in soccer. Paper presented at: Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, ECSS; July 6–9, 2011; Liverpool, UK.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 72.

    Fuller C, Taylor A, Raftery M. Should player fatigue be the focus of injury prevention strategies for international rugby sevens tournaments? Br J Sports Med. 2016;50(11):682–687. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 73.

    Sawka M, Burke L, Eichner E, Maughan R, Montain S, Stachenfeld N. American College of Sports Medicine position stand: exercise and fluid replacement. Med Sci Sport Exerc. 2007;39(2):377–390. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 74.

    Ihsan M, Watson G, Abbiss CR. What are the physiological mechanisms for post-exercise cold water immersion in the recovery from prolonged endurance and intermittent exercise? Sport Med. 2016;46:1095–1109. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 75.

    Broatch J, Petersen A, Bishop D. Postexercise cold water immersion benefits are not greater than the placebo effect. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014;46(11):2139–2147. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 76.

    Poppendieck W, Faude O, Wegmann M, Meyer T. Cooling and performance recovery of trained athletes: a meta-analytical review. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2013;8(3):227–242. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 77.

    Poppendieck W, Wegmann M, Ferrauti A. Massage and performance recovery: a meta-analytical review. Sport Med. 2016;46(2):183–204. doi:

  • 78.

    Hill J, Howatson G, van Someren K, Leeder J, Pedlar C. Compression garments and recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage: a meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2013;48(18):1–7. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 79.

    Azad F, Holmberg E, Sperlich B. Is there evidence that runners can benefit from wearing compression clothing? Sport Med. 2016;46:1939–1952. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 80.

    Thomas D, Erdman K, Burke L. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: nutrition and athletic performance. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2016;116(3):501–528. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 81.

    Roberts S, Stokes K, Trewartha G, Doyle J, Hogben P, Thompson D. Effects of carbohydrate and caffeine ingestion on performance during a rugby union simulation protocol. J Sports Sci. 2010;28(8):833–842. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 82.

    Dziedzic C, Higham D. Performance nutrition guidelines for international rugby sevens tournaments. Int J Sport Nutirion Exerc Metab. 2014;24(3):305–314. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 83.

    Killer S, Blannin A, Jeukendrup A. No evidence of dehydration with moderate daily coffee intake: a counterbalanced cross-over study in a free-living population. PLoS ONE. 2014;9:e84154. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 84.

    Hilditch C, Dorrian J, Siobhan B. Time to wake up: reactive countermeasures to sleep inertia. Ind Health. 2016;54:528–541. PubMed doi:

  • 85.

    Waterhouse J, Atkinson G, Edwards B, Reilly T. The role of a short post-lunch nap in improving cognitive, motor, and sprint performance in participants with partial sleep deprivation. J Sports Sci. 2007;25(14):1557–1566. PubMed doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 235 235 52
Full Text Views 17 17 4
PDF Downloads 10 10 4